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Scientists find child’s psychological defense traits depend heavily on mother

November 07, 2016, 13:31 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The findings can be useful for the development of balanced methods for nurturing child’s defense mechanisms

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© Sergey Karpov /TASS

MOSCOW, November 7. /TASS/. Psychologists from the Tyumen State University (TyumSU) have discovered that the maturity of a mother’s psychological defensive system has a strong influence on the development of a child’s defense mechanisms. The biggest impact was pinpointed at infancy, and at preschool and primary school ages. The findings can be useful for the development of balanced methods for nurturing child’s defense mechanisms.

A defense mechanism is the ability of an individual to deal with stressful situations while maintaining a consistency of ideas. In the modern world, the level of social stress is continuously mounting, hence the ability to reduce anxiety and avoid any harmful consequences to one’s mind and health becomes more and more important.

"By understanding age and gender peculiarities in the formation of a psychological defensive system, one might have at least a partial access to guide the development of child’s defense mechanisms," said Irina Rusyaeva, Professor of the Department of General and Social Psychology at TyumSU and one of the authors of the research.

To conduct their research, TyumSU researchers recruited 240 people into the experiment: 120 mothers and 120 children aged from 4 to 12 years. Psychologists used the following tools in their project - structured clinical interview, projective drawings, entertainment methods, and the Life Style Index standardized questionnaire.

According to the results of the research, the more developed psychological defensive systems with better ability to resist stress that mothers have, the more successfully children pick up the defense mechanism. That said, the gender and age of a child play an important role in this characteristic. For example, the connection between psychological defense systems of a mother and daughter is strong at preschool (4-6), primary school age (7-9), and early teenage years (10-12), while teenage boys lose this co-dependency.

The results of the research have been published in the last issue of the journal "Psychology in Russia: State of the Art".

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